CREDIT CARDS: A SCHEME, A SCAM, A SET-UP!
Just before I became an adult and headed off to college, I vividly remember the conversation that my mother had with me about credit cards. It went a little something like this:
Mom: DO NOT APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD. If you get a credit card. I will cut you off.
And that was it. The entire conversation went exactly like that. I didn’t ask any questions and I did not get my first credit card until I earned my degree and got my first “real” job. My first credit card was a Mastercard through Circuit City with a $400 limit and I immediately charged a $250 digital camera on it. In past conversations about credit with my mom (more on this later), I recalled her telling me to always make at least the minimum payment and to never be late when paying a bill. So from here I proceeded to pay for the $250 camera by paying $20 once a month. Yes people! That’s right…I paid the minimum required amount every month because I was a young fool with no real idea about how financing worked and couldn’t predict that the credit card company would increase my credit limit in such a short amount of time, giving me more room to swipe away.
Credit Cards are a scheme set up by Todd Tucker (you would have to watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta to catch the reference). They are pure evil trickery wrapped in a fancy bow that will make you think that you have money when you have nothing. They allow for you to “make payments on” something that you purchased on credit, but then charge you a fee (see: finance charge) based on your balance and the card’s annual percentage rate (APR) for not having the money to pay for it in the first place. You pay more than what you actually should for something because you don’t have the money OR…stay with me here…YOU HAVE THE MONEY BUT YOU DON’T WANT TO USE THE CASH IN YOUR POCKET. Wow. Make that makes sense.
After a few credit line increases, that $250 camera turned into a $4,000 debt overnight and I cannot for the life of me tell you what I bought using that credit card. I literally went from zero credit card debt to $4,000 in the hole within a year and here I am 10 years later still working on my mental awareness and acceptance of the way that I view money. Don’t be like me. I want better for all of you (seriously, I love us forreal). Here are some tips when it comes to the credit card game that I wish was shared with me before it was too late:
1. Credit cards do not equal money. It’s not your money. It does not belong to you. It belongs to THEY. You will make THEY rich if you are not careful. THEY do not care about you. THEY are depending on you to fall into the trap because THEY want you to fail and be broke for their own gain.
2. Pay off your credit cards EVERY SINGLE MONTH BEFORE the finance charge hits. This means, pay off everything that you charged before the close of the billing cycle. Avoid finance charges at all costs.
3. If you find yourself in a debt situation that seems endless, make a plan. Even if that plan includes making an additional $5 payment a month to decrease the principle. Every penny counts. TRUST ME.
4. Do not max your cards out. If you carry a balance on your card, try your best to keep the utilization at 30% of the limit and under. Your credit score appreciates this.
5. And if you just love credit cards so much, at least use one that has cash back or statement credit rewards and other perks. Get something out of it, but don’t play yourself in the process.
No matter where you are financially or how you feel about credit cards, always remember to do your best. Progress is a slow process, but worth it in the end.
In fashion. In life. In style. In love.
Tray is a fashion and lifestyle blogger at The Conversation Piece. You can find more of her work at theconvopiece.com and connect with her on Instagram: @theconvopiece or Twitter: @convopiecetray